Reforming Ground Disturbance Provisions


On December 18, 2018, Snohomish County Planning and Development Services (PDS) provided a briefing to the Snohomish County Council's Planning & Community Development Committee on proposed changes to the County's ground disturbance provisions under Chapter 30.63B SCC. The proposed code changes primarily pertain to grading within two feet of exterior property lines. Changes would provide additional flexibility for such grading activities if detailed civil construction plans and any required supporting reports are submitted to PDS for review and approval. Other changes would include housekeeping modifications and corrections to International Building Code citations.

The County Council will hold a public hearing on the proposal and possible amendment(s) on January 16, 2019 at 10.30am in the  Henry M. Jackson Board Room, 8th Floor, Robert J. Drewel Building (Administration Building East), 3000 Rockefeller Avenue, Everett, WA 98201.


The code amendment project is primarily focused on provisions under Chapter 30.63B SCC that pertain to standard setbacks for grading activities (i.e., cuts and fills). Specifically, this project is concerned with regulations under SCC 30.63B.130 that establish several requirements for grading activities.

SCC 30.63B.130 generally limits grading within two feet of abutting property lines, except in certain circumstances. In order to reduce the standard setback for grading, an applicant must satisfy the requirements under SCC 30.63B.130(4) which stipulate that:

  1. The applicant obtains a construction easement, written agreement, or authorization letter by the abutting property owner(s) to reduce the standard setback for ground disturbance; and
  2. The applicant produces a survey by a professional land surveyor licensed in Washington State that ensures compliance with construction and land disturbing activity site plans prior to construction of cut, fill, rockery, or a retaining wall proposed within six inches of a property line.

The provisions under SCC 30.63B.130 also establish maximum grade (i.e., slope) changes allowed through grading activities, whether by filling or excavating land. These provisions are not under review as part of this code development process.

PDS has met with stakeholders to better understand concerns and issues with the existing provisions and how the County could address them through code amendments. 

Project Contact

Stephen Fesler, Senior Planner
Email Stephen Ffesler

Project Schedule

  • Late June/Early July: Stakeholder Outreach
  • August: Informational Briefing to County Council
  • Mid-August: Draft Code Language and Additional Stakeholder Outreach
  • Fall: Planning Commission Briefing and Hearing
  • Winter: County Legislative Consideration

Project Documents